How to Create an Accessible Home Garden

Man in wheelchair using adaptive gardening tool with long pole to reach flower garden bed. Women kneeling down opposite him. In front of a gazebo in Helen Hayes Hospital's MacArthur Park, overlooking the Hudson River.

Gardening is great way to improve physical and mental health. If you are a person with a disability, there are many ways to reap the benefits of gardening by creating an environment that allows you to work in your garden safely, comfortably, and independently. We sat down with HHH Adapted Sports & Recreation Coordinator Peter Gagliardo to learn about ways to adapt a home garden, as well as different types of tools and equipment that can fit the needs of people of all abilities.


Ways to Adapt Your Garden

  • Make sure that the location of your garden, such as walkways or patios, are well paved and offer good traction. For individuals in a wheelchair or walker, the path should be at least 40 inches wide for full mobility around the garden.
  • Raised garden beds that have the soil level at 24”-36” from the ground work great for gardeners that can work from a seated position. Gardeners that will work from their wheelchair should have a raised planter at around 34” to allow room for their knees to fit comfortably under the bed.
  • Another great option to try is vertical gardening. If you do not have wide enough pathways or the space to have raised garden beds installed, you can hang plants or flowers from fences or overhangs. This is especially helpful for individuals that may have difficulty getting low to the ground and individuals in a wheelchair can customize the proper height of the planters so they can work comfortably.


Adaptive Tools

For more information on how to make your garden more accessible or suggestions on adapted tools and techniques, please contact HHH Adapted Sports & Recreation Program Coordinator Peter Gagliardo at 845-786-4950 or peter.gagliardo@helenhayeshosp.org.